See All The Gory Bits At The Surgeons’ Museum


One of the UK’s oldest and most unique group of museums reopens today having been closed for 18 months to undergo a £4 million transformation.

Surgeons’ Hall Museums, part of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, houses one of the largest and most historic collections of artefacts charting the history and development of surgery. The collections include surgical instruments and artworks and one of the largest collections of anatomical specimens in the world.

These specimens are displayed in the Wohl Pathology Museum, which is located within the iconic building designed by William Playfair in 1832.

All of the exhibits which have made SHM world-famous will be back on display: including a pocket book made from the skin of the infamous murderer, William Burke; and exhibits relating to Dr Joseph Bell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s teacher and main inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, the highlight of which is a letter from the author crediting his mentor as such.

The reopened SHM, whose transformation has been supported by a £2.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will also feature even more interactive and display exhibits, which will help visitors from all around the world discover the stories and breakthroughs that have shaped modern surgical practice.

Ian Ritchie, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, commented:

“Surgeons’ Hall Museums and its collections are a very important part of the heritage of the College and an equally important part of its future. We feel keenly our responsibility to educate and inform the public as part of our commitment to patient care and professional standards. Through SHM, the College can reach visitors from across the globe and inspire the next generation of surgeons. Thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and our many Fellows and Members who have contributed to the project, the new SHM will help us to reach even more people. We are also very grateful to the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation whose significant financial support of this project has enabled us to open much of the collection, housed in the newly-renamed Wohl Pathology Museum, to the public for the first time in nearly 200 years.”


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